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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline Sharply
by Tom Moeller  February 7, 2019

Initial unemployment insurance claims declined to 234,000 in the week ended February 2 after a jump to an unrevised 253,000 during the prior week. The shortfall reversed nearly half of the previous week's increase to the highest level since September 2017. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 220,000 claims this week. The four-week moving average rose to 225,000, the highest level since early-December.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance declined to 1.736 million in the week ended January 26 from 1.778 million the previous week. The four-week moving average of continuing claims increased to 1.741 million from 1.737 million in the prior week, up from a low of 1.641 million early in November.

The insured unemployment rate held steady at 1.2% in the week ended January 26, where it's been for two months.

Insured unemployment rates vary widely by state. These state data are not seasonally adjusted. During the week ending January 19 the lowest rates were in Florida (0.47%), North Carolina (0.52%), Tennessee (0.63%), Virginia (0.65%) and Georgia (0.66%). The highest rates were in Alaska (3.47%), New Jersey (2.72%), Montana (2.53%), Connecticut (2.50%) and Rhode Island (2.44%). High rates also were found in Pennsylvania (2.37%), Massachusetts (2.30%) and West Virginia (2.08%).

Data on weekly unemployment claims going back to 1967 are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database and are summarized monthly in USECON. Data for individual states are in REGIONW. The expectations figure is from the Action Economics Forecast Survey, carried in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 02/02/19 01/26/19 01/19/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 234 253 200 4.9 221 244 262
Continuing Claims -- 1,736 1,778 -9.2 1,766 1,967 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Jan. 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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